By Erik Gudris/ Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Defending champion Serena Williams cruised to an easy opening win at the WTA Championships. Sara Errani hopes injury doesn't derail her chances in her upcoming match Wednesday.
Photo Credit: AP
Opening day of the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships in Istanbul didn't feature any surprises in terms of the results. But, as in years past at the season-ending event, one player found herself on an injury watch list heading into Tuesday.
Monday's action kicked off with No. 2 seed Victoria Azarenka facing Italy's Sara Errani in the White Group. With this being the first match for Azarenka in nearly a month since an early loss in Beijing, Azarenka looked noticeably rusty.
For her part, Errani confounded Azarenka by dragging the Belarusian to all sides of the court. That included some well-timed drop shots from the Italian to bring Azarenka into net before Errani tossed over perfect lob winners. Errani's moxie, along with fighting off break points against her, allowed the Italian to open up a 5-2 lead in the opening set.
But though Errani would soon have two chances to serve out the set, she couldn't as Azarenka began to find her timing on her return games. Azarenka would pull even for 5-all before finding herself broken again. Yet Errani, now on her third attempt, still couldn't serve out the set.
The ensuing tiebreak went Azarenka's way as she began to read Errani's drop shot attempts much better to set up winners of her own. An ill-timed double fault from Errani when down set point gave Azarenka the first set 7-6(4).
The early stages of the second set found Errani struggling with what appeared to be a calf issue. After calling for a trainer, Errani returned to court but still didn't look her best. Unable to even move for returns, Errani could only watch as Azarenka took command of the set.
Azarenka soon closed out the 7-6(4), 6-2 victory.
Afterwards, Errani admitted that she was not 100 percent physically but would still attempt to play her next match tomorrow against China's Li Na.
If Errani does withdraw from the event, Caroline Wozniacki would step in as the first alternate.
Williams Crushes Kerber in 64 Minutes
Defending champion Serena Williams may have said she felt nervous afterwards, but it didn't look to be the case, as the top seed posted an impressive debut performance versus No. 8 seed Angelique Kerber.
After saving two early break points against her, Williams rolled out to a 3-0 lead in the opening set.
Seventeen winners later, Williams had the first set 6-3.
Kerber double faulted while down break point in the opening game of the second set. That early advantage was all Williams needed to take swift control of proceedings.
Kerber soon succumbed under the weight of Williams' 31 total winners as the German could barely win points down the stretch.
After 64 minutes, Williams celebrated the 6-3, 6-1 win.
Kvitova Takes Out Radwanska in Straight Sets
The most anticipated match of the day proved ultimately to be a one-way victory for 2011 champion Petra Kvitova. The Czech star took on Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska in what was their first meeting since Dubai earlier this year.
Kvitova got off to a quick lead thanks to breaking Radwanska's serve in the opening game. Radwanska herself had a handful of break point chances in the set but couldn't convert any of them.
A swinging forehand winner from Kvitova, her 15th of the set, sealed for her a 6-4 first set.
Kvitova again took an early lead with yet another break of serve to open the second set. But a horrible double fault from Kvitova when down break point herself in the next game allowed Radwanksa to get on even terms for 1-all.
Radwanska, even with her trademark defense and spins from all sides of the court, found it difficult to stay with Kvitova, who found a perfect mix of power and consistency throughout the match.
What looked like a routine straight-sets win for Kvitova got dicey in the final game.
Serving up 5-4, Kvitova tossed in some unnecessary errors and soon Radwanska had break point. Kvitova saved it, though, and soon held match point. But a double fault from Kvitova brought it back to deuce. Kvitova held another match point only to see Radwanska fight it off to then earn another break point for her. Kvitova saved that with a huge serve and then found herself with her third match point.
When Radwanska floated a forehand just long, it was initially called in by the linesperson. Kvitova challenged and was rewarded with the match when Hawk-eye showed Radwanska's shot was indeed out. Kvitova raised her arms in victory after taking the 6-4, 6-4 win.
The victory was also significant for Kvitova, as it was her first straight sets win in seven matches. Kvitova holds the current record for winning the most three set matches of any WTA player this season.
Tuesday's schedule sees Li facing Errani in the first match of the day. That's followed by Azarenka versus Jelena Jankovic and then Williams versus Radwanska.